Backcountry skiing and snowboarding can be extremely dangerous. Use the information presented here at your own risk, and please take an avalanche education class. If you don’t know, DON’T GO!
The call of the mountains is undeniable. No matter how you may enjoy them, whether it is on a pair of skis, a snowboard, on a machine, or on foot, they offer that release from the normal that we all hold so dear. However, as the five stories published over the past week demonstrate, the mountains are always in control. No matter how strong we may think we are, the fact is: they always have the last word. Whether it’s a full-on rescue like Colter Hinchcliffe’s accident in the Aspen backcountry, or simply an incredibly close call like Nick McNutt’s lucky escape from a massive avalanche in the Canadian Rockies, these kinds of things happen. However, the ultimate lesson is that we can prevent these kinds of things through careful decision making beforehand and having a bombproof plan when things do go wrong.
Backcountry education and snow science are an ever-evolving beast. Each year, with more and more people entering the backcountry, better approaches to risk management come to be. No two avalanche situations are the same, but the more we can study snowpacks and how they change with the influences of wind, temperature, and time, the more data we have to make sound decisions. The mountains may speak their own language, but we can learn to understand it and listen to what they are telling us.
TGR’s International Pro Riders Workshop is a unique annual opportunity for our athletes and production crews to extend their backcountry education through hands-on training in the field with some of the best instructors in the world. This year’s IPRW was made possible thanks to the expert instruction of Zahan Billimoria and the guides at Samsara Mountain Experience.